Credit: Kathryn Clark / Mustang News
Audio by Sarina Grossi

On Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., the Multicultural Center held CultureFest, a celebration of the different cultures at Cal Poly in the University Union plaza. Club booths sold food while different dance clubs on campus performed in the middle of the plaza. 

Coinciding with Mustang’s Family Weekend, CultureFest was a way and a space for students to express their culture and identity at a predominantly white institution. This year, the theme for the event was “Blooming in Culture” which was a continuation of the themes from the last two years, “Rooted in Culture” and “Growing in Culture.”

Graphic communications freshman Sameeha Siraj came from the Bay Area, where she said she was surrounded by diversity and missed seeing that showcased on Cal Poly’s campus.

“I am really happy that I got to come and see all the different cultures in CultureFest because I really miss seeing different cultures,” Siraj said.  “I am really impressed by it.”

The event emcee was business senior Avanti Gummaraju, who works for the Multicultural Center as a student staff member. She introduced each performance of the day and helped to announce raffles and other competitions.

“It is a cool time to get close to the community and know the student population here,” kinesiology junior Sura Sohi said.

Starting off the performances for the day was the band 9Hearts. They performed on the UU stage just before 11 a.m. They held many raffles throughout the day where people who entered could win prizes such as squishmallows, Cal Poly gear and baskets from the Asian Market downtown.

The first dance club to perform was Hui O Hawaii with a traditional dance at around 12:10 p.m. United Movement, Cal Poly’s non-audition dance team, closed out the event with their dance act.

Biomedical sophomore Emmanuel Catiis watched the K2 club perform their dance to popular Korean pop music. 

“I always love watching K2 perform because it is always nice seeing the K-pop culture that we have on campus,” Catiis said.

For some people in the dance clubs on campus, this was their first time dancing in a performance at Cal Poly. Animal Science sophomore and  K2 Dance Coordinator and sophomore Jacqueline Lee said she was extremely proud of the freshman and new dancers who joined their team this year.

Kathryn Clark | Mustang News

“I was really proud of how in just three weeks, they were able to improve their dancing and also, feel more comfortable around each other and make new friends in a new club,” Lee said.

For some, this marks their last CultureFest here at Cal Poly. 

Psychology senior and United Movement Competition Team Director Angelo Lozano said his last time performing at CultureFest was just as exciting as his first time during his sophomore year.

“It is kind of like a full circle moment,” Lozano said.

In addition to the performances and the ongoing raffle, Avanti and the other coordinators of the event encouraged the audience to participate in a variety of activities, including a game of musical chairs, a round of the Cupid Shuffle dance and another dance break right before the end of the day.

“I think it’s pretty important that we keep performing because we’re lending a voice through our bodies to all these different individuals that come from such different cultures,” Gummaraju said. “And I think dance itself has its own culture.”